Many small businesses and sole traders casually view their cyber-security setups. But, unfortunately, some of the water-cooler conversations you hear belie people’s attitudes, like:

“Well, I run a Mac, so they can’t get viruses,” or “I pay McAfee 50 bucks a year; why should I worry?”.

But the reality is very different. Internet baddies are all around us, and they spend most of their days trawling the internet for people with poor security and a lot to lose. It’s not just SMEs that are targeted. Over the last few years, the UK’s health provider, the National Health Service, a huge institution, had its entire IT framework brought to a standstill by ransomware attacks. The UK government, to this day, refuses to comment on whether the perpetrators were paid in crypto per their demands.

But if it can happen to the NHS, it can certainly happen to small businesses. Regular commercial virus protection can help, but it may not be enough to prevent disaster. Imagine if a cybercriminal suddenly got hold of all your passwords to your cloud drives and HD documents, demanding thousands in whatever currency, or they’ll delete everything you own. Fortunately, a completely free and straightforward way of preventing this is by using rotating residential proxies.

The internet was designed for the sharing of cat pictures!

A proxy server is an intermediary connection between a client requesting a resource and the server providing it. Still, the proxy performs the necessary network transactions instead of connecting directly to the requested resource, for example, a web page or online file. This facility also adds extra benefits, such as anonymized privacy, security, and data load balancing. But why is the word ‘residential’ so significant in this context?

The crucial part about residential proxies is that they use IP addresses provided by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), not data centers. Each residential proxy represents a physical location, usually someone’s home computer in a residential, as opposed to a business, address, or even a presence on a blockchain.

ISPs register residential IP addresses in public databases. This allows e-commerce providers and hackers to determine a device’s physical location. So by using a residential proxy, your small business, with all its priceless files and business intelligence, will seem to an internet hacker like a teenager in their bedroom with nothing more valuable to target than pictures of her Grandpa’s cat!

Legal, accessible, and even cost-saving

Crucially, using a residential proxy isn’t illegal; it’s just like putting the wrong phone number down on a form where you don’t want to receive any phone calls from the form publisher. Nothing bad can happen to the residential address because you’re not connected to it – the internet thinks you are!

Another significant advantage of a residential proxy is to avoid dynamic pricing if you’re a business purchasing goods or services. Ecommerce providers like Amazon and eBay can detect whether or not a customer is a business or a private individual by using the source IP address. Unfortunately, enterprises get charged more than individuals for the same thing with added taxes or because the seller simply thinks the buyer can afford the higher price. Behind the anonymity of a residential proxy, this dynamic pricing doesn’t apply.

Dungeons, Dragons and the FBI

It’s not only businesses and domestic users that can have their devices hacked through malware. Cybercriminals can also hide malware even within complex computer games when people play in online competitions instead of simply playing themselves or a friend in the same room. This can even allow criminals to take control of your computer. But again, hiding behind a residential proxy puts that server barrier between you and the bad guys.

Just to make things even more shadowy, let’s not forget that illegal hackers are only part of the picture of online threats or plain disadvantages. As mentioned above, dynamic pricing by Ecommerce providers is perfectly legal, as is government surveillance of all your internet activity. Governments use the excuse of National Security for such snooping; the milestone Patriot Act of 2001 in the USA enshrined this into law.

All in all, when you take into account the enhanced privacy, security, eCommerce benefits, avoidance of data throttling, and the many advantages of using a residential proxy, you soon realize that there isn’t any reason not to use one, whether you’re a Mom & Pop store, a business employing 50 people or a remote freelancer working from your kitchen table.

In short, whenever you’re on the internet without a residential proxy, the chances are that someone is checking you out to see how juicy a victim you might be! There’s a quote from the author Joseph Heller, who wrote in the seminal novel ‘Catch 22’:

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you….” In the internet landscape of the 2020s, paranoia may be regarded as a healthy way to think.